As winter starts to turn to spring and the desire to leave your homes and make the most of your weekends and evenings increases, you’ll no doubt be on the lookout for some fantastic restaurants, cafes, bars and pubs across Leicestershire and Rutland in which to spend your time.

Whether you’re searching for the perfect country pub for a glorious Sunday lunch this upcoming Mother’s Day or you’re craving some sweet treats at a quintessentially English café, Leicestershire and Rutland are just jam-packed with incredible places to eat and drink.

To make your life that much easier, we’ve rounded up 12 of our favourite eateries across the region. For a more comprehensive collection of the best places to eat and drink in the area, pick up your FREE copy of our recently released Leicestershire & Rutland Food & Drink Guide or read a digital copy of the guide here.

The Joiners – LE17 5GH

Having earned a loyal following of diners over the years, The Joiners, located in the picturesque village of Bruntingthorpe, is a foodie haven known for its friendly, welcoming ambience and intelligently compiled menu. Situated in a building that has been an inn since the 17th century, the cosy low-beamed, flag-floored and softly lit interior makes dining here a memorable experience.

Attracting visitors from near and far due to the stunning range of exceptional dishes on offer, everything on offer is made from the freshest ingredients available and has been cooked to an impeccable standard. Booked up almost every night (booking is essential), their enviable wine list, prompt and unobtrusive service and mouth-watering meals always make for a fantastic dinner out.

The George – LE16 8NA

The perfect spot from which to explore Market Harborough, the surrounding picturesque countryside and all that the region offers, The George in Great Oxendon offers the warmest of welcomes to all its visitors.  With eight boutique bedrooms, a traditional village bar, and a beautiful restaurant that features a relaxed atmosphere and seasonal menus that showcase the best British ingredients, The George is well worth a visit.

This fantastic establishment also boasts an extensive wine list with carefully selected offerings by Corney & Barrow, The George’s dedicated wine merchant, which perfectly complement the scrumptious dishes off of the seasonal menus. Whether you’re planning a special celebration or just fancy a relaxed afternoon with your loved ones, afternoon tea at The George is also always a treat.

The Plough – LE15 7NJ

Situated close to Rutland Water, The Plough at Greetham offers the perfect spot in which to relax after a refreshing winter walk and enjoy views of the beautiful surrounding Rutland countryside. Known for offering a warm welcome to all its two-legged and four-legged guests, you’ll love the menu full of hearty pub classics with a modern interpretation.

From traditional meals such as beer-battered haddock to an ever-changing specials selection which always offers something a little different, there’s something to suit every palate at The Plough and all for great value too. From Monday to Friday noon to 2pm and 5.30pm to 7.30pm, enjoy two meals from the menu for just £15 – perfect for couples and friends looking to catch up over a delicious meal.

The Bell Inn – LE15 2NJ

Featured in CAMRA’s Good Beer Guide 2019, the family-run and dog-friendly Bell Inn, with its traditional beamed ceilings and cosy corners, will instantly charm you. Epitomising everything that makes traditional British country inns so special, relax within this well-restored pub’s walls and enjoy a delicious dish from The Bell Inn’s fantastic menu which champions traditional and seasonal British fare made using the finest local ingredients wherever possible.  

Considered by locals to be the heart of the village of Frisby on the Wreake, stop by after a brisk winter stroll and you’ll soon see why. Whether you choose from the likes of beer-battered haddock with hand-cut chips, mushy peas and tartare sauce, or the slow-braised lamb shoulder served with mashed potato, braised red cabbage, honey-roasted parsnips and lamb gravy, you won’t be disappointed.

The Bewicke Arms – LE16 8UB

Dating back to the 16th century, the beautiful Bewicke Arms is one of Hallaton’s oldest and most beloved English pubs. Sitting at the heart of the village, its handsome exterior, complete with traditional thatched roof, will initially draw you in, but it’s the fantastic food and atmosphere that will keep you coming back again and again.

Always making it a priority to support local producers, with their beef and pork coming from nearby Waterloo Cottage Farm and their lamb sourced from the Beesley family farm, the brilliant seasonal menus at The Bewicke Arms will delight you. Changing regularly in order to incorporate the freshest ingredients possible, begin with the likes of creamy wild mushroom risotto or classic soup of the day before moving onto mains like the flavoursome fish pie or duo of Welland Valley lamb served with herb-mashed potatoes, seasonal vegetables and a rich jus.

The Coach House Inn – LE15 8NT

Nestled within the Leicestershire countryside in the charming village of South Luffenham, The Coach House offers a relaxed spot in which to enjoy everything from a casual drink with friends to a peaceful weekend getaway. Having been taken over by new management in July 2017, the traditional and relatively unchanged interiors of The Coach House Inn, complete with flagstone flooring and exposed brickwork, offer the cosiest of settings in which to enjoy a drink from the 18th-century bar or a modern British meal from their fantastic in-house restaurant, The Hayloft.

Start with the likes of creamy moules marinières with homemade bread and healthy roasted butternut squash salad topped with goat’s cheese and pomegranate before moving onto mains like succulent roast partridge served with smoked pancetta, spicy, lamb-based Kathmandu pizza, and mushroom and celeriac cannelloni.

Granny Smith’s – LE9 1RQ

The ideal spot for a catch up with friends, Granny Smith’s, with its vintage décor, soft hues, and wood panelling, is the quintessential English café. Situated in the village of Cosby, less than half an hour’s drive from Leicester, this cosy haven offers a tempting selection of both sweet and savoury treats along with a relaxed, laid-back atmosphere that will make you feel perfectly at home.

Visit for breakfast and indulge in a full English fry-up complete with hash browns, sausages, bacon, egg, beans and grilled tomatoes. Those with more of a sweet-tooth will rejoice over the selection of croissants and pastries available. If you’re stopping by for lunch, treat yourself with their classic club sandwich, soup of the day, or crustless quiche with homemade coleslaw. Their hot panini and grilled sandwiches are also popular choices. After lunch, their tempting range of freshly made cakes, including an impressive array of gluten-free offerings and vegan treats, are sure to entice you.

Thyme – LE5 5DN

Attracting foodies from as far as Dorset, Thyme is situated in the pavilion that stands in the centre of Leicester’s historic Spinney Hill Park and boasts a vibrant Mediterranean menu which is as diverse as the surrounding neighbourhood. Start your dining experience at Thyme with a selection of delicious morsels from the mezze menu such as the herby falafel with citrusy homemade hummus dip before moving onto mains like the chicken shawarma, one of the restaurant’s signature dishes. Made using thin slices of marinated chicken served with a delicious garlic sauce, this sauce is one of Thyme’s best-kept secrets and takes hours to make using a traditional technique.

Thyme’s gourmet afternoon tea also can’t be missed. Take in views across the picturesque park as you savour an afternoon tea that showcases Thyme’s authentic Mediterranean flavours.

Wygston’s House Bar & Restaurant – LE1 5LD

Dating back to medieval times, Leicester’s oldest standing house, Wygston’s House, sits proudly in the heart of Leicester’s Old Town. Drawing in passes by due to its handsome and historic timber frame, this fascinating local landmark underwent a recent renovation in 2017 when it reopened as a brand-new, must-visit restaurant and bar.

Boasting a large south-facing beer garden, a light, airy and comfortable bar downstairs with large windows and leather sofas, and a dining room full of charm and character complete with Tudor and Georgian features, come for the brilliant atmosphere but stay for the high-end European- and British-inspired cuisine on the menu. Begin with the likes of carrot and coriander soup before moving onto rich and warming mains like the beef Bourguignon or the melt-in-the-mouth slow-cooked pork belly with garlic and rosemary mash.

The Blacksmiths Arms – LE12 8PP

Welcoming guests since 1753, The Blacksmiths Arms is a beloved fixture in the riverside village of Barrow upon Soar. Despite its unassuming exterior, once you step inside the pub you’ll find a haven of fantastic food and outstanding service. With interiors that blend the traditional with the contemporary and a relaxed and welcoming atmosphere that will make you never want to leave, take a seat and peruse the seasonal menus where the chefs showcase the very best local produce to create a tempting choice of delicious dishes.

Visit in the evening and you’ll be spoilt for choice with the likes of beetroot and goat’s cheese gnocchi to start, and mains like the juicy fillet steak with hand-cut chips and pot-roasted chicken supreme with garlic confit potatoes and bacon jam. Their Sunday roasts are also not to be missed.

Paul’s Kitchen – LE2 5DH

Founded and run by award-winning chef Paul Day, this cosy bistro is just buzzing with activity. Whether you’re visiting for breakfast, lunch or dinner, you won’t be disappointed by the tempting selection of treats on offer all day.

Take a seat in Paul’s Kitchen’s rustic dining area and enjoy a delicious breakfast like their traditional full English (including a vegetation option), as well as their indulgent American breakfast which incorporates a 4oz beef steak, sausage, crispy potatoes, mushrooms, bacon, fried eggs and grilled tomatoes. If you visit at lunchtime, their extensive range of sandwiches and wraps will keep you going until dinner, when this brilliant bistro offers a tempting selection of tapas dishes along with a selection of British classics like sausages and mash, beer-battered cod, macaroni cheese and a selection of steaks and burgers.

The Case– LE1 5AW

Established in 1990 and located in a converted luggage factory, The Case is looked upon as a benchmark venue in Leicester and is well known in the region for its style, sophistication and staggeringly good value. Passionate about producing great British food with a global influence using fresh, seasonal produce and modern techniques, The Case always sources the very best quality produce to create delicious dishes packed with taste, colour, and texture.

If you visit for lunch, expect starters such as the hot smoked mackerel with mango and chilli salsa and wasabi pea crumb and mains like the braised blade of beef with grilled field mushroom, potato fondant, roast plum tomato and jus. Dinner is just as indulgent with starters like citrus cured salmon with pickled cockles, radish and a ginger dressing and mains like pan-seared coley with chickpea mash, mooli salad and salsa verde.

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